Wednesday, August 22, 2007

This wouldn't be so sappy if she weren't laying on my feet right now

The day I brought Lola home, she weighed 5.2 pounds. As I've written here about her before, she was a "rescue" which is code for Everything That Can Possibly Be Wrong With a Dog You, You Lucky, Lucky Sucker, Will Find It In This Dog. Yes, that is a title. And it was hers. She was 5.2 pounds of mange-infested adorableness with a extra large side of gastro-intestinal issues.
But when she licked my hand and raised her little non-existent eyebrows that wrinkled her bald, crumpled forehead, I knew she was mine. She was the little, squirmy piglet I'd always begged my mother to have, come fifteen years late.
Lola has come a long way, though. Through those beginning weeks of mange dips (13 weeks (it normally takes 6-8)) and dog food experimentation, which still sometimes proves to be a challenge, she is now nearly the perfect dog. Yes, there have been days I've gotten out of bed, walked down the hall, in the dark half asleep, and stepped in vomit, but by and large, she makes no trouble.
In fact, she has this tricky, almost evil way of looking at me when I've stepped in said vomit pile that makes me feel like it was something I did to make the mess. Like, woman, it was you who coaxed it out of me. And then all at once I feel incredibly guilty about everything I've done in the last month that hasn't been something that caters directly to her needs and desires. I am the guilty one.
And boy, does she do this ALL THE TIME. The worst part, it usually works. I don't really have the "ideal" dog-owning life, you see. I am up early, gone through the day and working on other things at night (like having a life or, you know, watching people sing karaoke on television). I travel quite a bit and run a lot and this just doesn't all fit perfectly with owning a dog who, if she could speak, would take every chance to remind me she was royalty in her previous life. So that walk in the evening, those visits to Grandma's and the hallway fetch we play every morning just don't ever seem to be enough, for me. For her, well, I think she's fine. All she ever seems to really care about is that I fill the bowls and that she gets to plant her butt next to me on the couch, no matter who else may be there.
I think of all this now, though, because it has been five years since I scooped up that 5.2 pounds of mess and never looked back. Five years of walks and wintertime foot warming and food experimentation and barking at things that NO ONE ELSE CAN SEE (her, not me- mostly). When I realized this today, and being the perpetual realist I am, I began thinking about her age, and how long dogs like her live. Average: ten years. I know, I'm depressing, but barring anything out of the natural order, I couldn't help but realize we are likely halfway through this thing.
I immediately understand now how a pet can mark your life. She lived with me in my first apartment, when I ate Ramen and her "specialty" food cost six dollars a pound. She's driven with me across the state and the country. She's seen my friends (some closer than others) come and go. She's been there when I've been too sick to get out of bed to feed her and when I've been so happy I pick her up and spin her around like the doll of a seven-year-old. She's the only one I make up songs for and the only one with whom I speak Spanish on a regular basis. She's seen me with my heart broken, at the end of the day after my very first "real world" job, and sat with me through a snow storm power outage.
And true, I know she is a dog. She is my buddy and my pal and awful cute but still, a dog. I do not love her like I love many people. But I do love her. How can I not? She is a part of who I am and reminds me of things about myself I'd otherwise forget. And like any good ally, she is too important to ever toss aside. She knows far too much.


justacoolcat said...

"when I ate Ramen and her "specialty" food cost six dollars a pound"

I've always said my dogs eat better than I.

I wouldn't make them testify to the fact though; they know too much too.

Sizzle said...

pets for me have always been such a part of my family. i don't feel like a house is a home without them there. i think sometimes about my dog who is turning 12 this year and how she acts like she is 2. i get morbid about how long she might live but then realize she's had such a full life and i am so lucky to have shared it with her. i get that way about my cats too. i just love them to pieces.

lola sure is a cute pup.

Backofpack said...

Funny, not 20 minutes ago Riley commented to me that our dog will be 10 in a week. And her momma, who we adopted when she was expecting the litter Sundae came from, only made it to 12. I don't like to think about it either. And our cat is 12 now...and laying on my feet. Parallel worlds tonight in CO and WA!

Airam said...

That is the cutest picture ever!

e.b. said...

I want to gobble that picture up and eat it - she is too precious.

Every so often I think about the inevitable and I become way too sad and push those thoughts aside and decide that Ginger will simply live forever as no dog has ever before (Lola can join her). Because they really are best friends and the greatest company and I can't imagine not having them around.

Danielle said...

Ah yes...a dog is a wonderful thing. I so wish I had one now as a running partner, but like you, I don't have a lifestyle for a dog and I just can't convince myself to try...I'm getting a part-time one today though (my parents are going on a trip and I get to babysit). And I don't know so much about Boston Terriers, but I'd say you have more than 5 years...smaller dogs tend toward the 15 year range, particularly if you care for them well, which sounds like Lola's life...what a cutie!

Cravey said...

Happy Dog-Owning Anniversary.

I can't imagine my life without at least one dog. My 'old' man is about to turn 10. When I think of all he's seen in our 10 years together... your post chokes me up.
There is nothing like the 'come as you are, when you can, however you can' love that emits from four paws.

Count yourself lucky to have been blessed with her little wrinkle-face.


appletini said...

Such a SWEET post! Dogs can be like family. You can get really attached :)

You are such a good dog mommy!

sue said...

"...when I've been so happy I pick her up and spin her around like the doll of a seven-year-old. "

...and you wonder why she throws up?

j/k. What a cute picture and an adorable post. As a confirmed critter lover, owner, and yes, rescue-er, I treasure each and every one of them. They really ARE family.

The Exception said...

What a wonderful tribute to your friend, puppy, and pets everywhere.

I grew up with pets and have filled my life with them always. They offer a friendship that a person simply can't. Yes, they are animals, but they are priceless.

Josh said...

Our Yorkie is very much a family member with full rights and privileges. But he’s sometimes a pain in the a$$ and has never once chipped in for rent or groceries...

Sempre Libera said...

When my parents had to put our German Shepherd down last year (she was 15-1/2!), my sister said at one point that she felt silly for crying about it. But I didn't think it was silly - pets are very much a part of the family. You still have several good years ahead of you with Lola, enjoy them! I only wish I had time and room for one of my own!

Amanda said...

I think I'm a blog addict now that I've started my own and here I stumble on yours and I'm pretty it's already sucked me in.

We got a cat 3 years ago who was so sick she couldn't move..we threw out the couch she lived on for the first month, but we fell in love with her and that was that!

OC said...

Awww... loved this post! It makes me want to go and get that pug that I've been eying... forever!

cbean said...

Awww. Thank you for this post. I came over from Dawn's place. I am awaiting the call to pick up my dachshund from the Humane Society right now. And he has the heartworms which is going to cost another $115, but I just want to bring him home. I lubs him already. LOL.